Hurricane Warning: Tar Heels Drop Second Straight in ACC 63-57
***Listen to the recap***
The Tar Heel offense was anemic for most of the night, but the aggressive 2-3 zone by the athletic Miami squad definitely contributed to the woes. In total, Carolina shot 31 percent from the floor.
The Hurricanes, improving to 9-6 overall and 1-2 in conference, slowed down the tempo, and executed a surgical offense for much of the contest while UNC continued its turnover struggles with some erratic play.
Rion Brown led the way for Miami with 15 points. Marcus Paige was a dreadful 2-15 from the floor for the Tar Heels and Joel James was ejected from the game in the first half with a flagrant foul.
James wasted no time making an impact in his return. He got to the free throw line and knocked down both attempts. And then he ignited the crowd with an up and under move to put the Tar Heels up 6-0 with 17:51 left on the first half clock.
Miami’s Donnavan Kirk responded soon after with an outside three-point jumper.
The energy and intensity was up from the outset on this night. At the under-16 timeout, Carolina held an 8-6 advantage over the Hurricanes.
Desmond Hubert fought his way to the foul line after the stop in play. He converted on one of two.
The Hurricanes battled out to a slim 10-9 lead, but Carolina’s Paige found nothing but net on a smooth three-point jumper. And Kennedy Meeks entered the scoring fray with a made slider inside to stake UNC ahead 14-13 with 11:20 to go in the half.
The pace of scoring slowed to a screeching halt for Carolina, and Miami was taking full advantage, garnering a 15-14 edge with 9:08 on the clock.
Tonye Jekiri picked up his second foul at the 8 minute mark. He was forced to take a spot on the Hurricane bench.
Nate Britt got his first points of the game with a deep two-point field goal to grab the lead back for the Tar Heels. But a freebie layup off a steal gave the lead back to Miami.
With 5:25 left in the first half, Miami held a 17-16 edge in a sloppy, back-and-forth affair in the Smith Center that had Coach Williams barking out orders courtside.
Isaiah Hicks hit a free throw and Paige hustled to get the rebound off the miss in the back court. Miami’s Rion Brown scored on the other end and continued his team-leading night in scoring early on.
Paige missed a three-point attempt from way out and the Tar Heels had only made three out of their last 18 shots to fall behind 21-17 with 3:24 remaining in the first half.
Meeks used his body well to earn a basket that closed Carolina within two. But Erik Swoope got one to go for the Hurricanes to extend back out the lead to four.
And a dagger three-pointer from Brown pushed Miami out in front even more. At the close of the half, the score stood at 29-23 in favor of the Hurricanes following a McDonald three.
Miami’s Rion Brown was leading all scorers with 11 points while Kennedy Meeks led the way for Carolina with 5 points.
UNC was shooting a woeful 29.6 percent from the floor in the first half. Miami was shooting at 37.9 clip.
To start the half, Paige knocked down a pair of foul shots to close the Tar Heels within four briefly before Kirk put the Hurricanes back up by six with 18:31 to go in the game.
James was thrown out of the game on a flagrant foul. The fans inside the Dean Dome were not too happy with ejection when it appeared James had no malicious intent.
Brice Johnson got his first points of the night with a turnaround jumper that placed the score at 34-27 with 17:05 left in the contest.
Carolina continued to be out of sync on offense, trailing 35-27 with 15:59 to go. Surprisingly, Miami had not managed to build a wider margin.
A beautiful slam by J.P. Tokoto woke up the snoozing crowd and encouraged a timeout by Miami Coach Larranaga with score standing at 35-31 in favor of Miami.
It marked the first time Carolina scored back-to-back field goals since it was up 8-0 in the first half.
Miami seized momentum back with a couple quick buckets to extend the lead out to 41-33 with under 12 minutes left in the game. Swoope was providing some nice energy inside for the Hurricanes.
McDonald banged in a long three to keep Carolina in the hunt, but Miami’s surgical offensive execution kept them in front 46-36 with 9:09 remaining.
McAdoo knocked a jumper in, and then followed that up with a trip to the foul line. He made one to get UNC within seven.
McDonald chipped in another score to get the Tar Heels within five, and Tokoto provided some more lift. UNC had closed the gap to 47-43 with 5:08 to play.
Jekiri converted on a slam on the other end to get the Miami offense going again. Kirk fouled out for the Hurricanes to send Johnson to the line. He flicked them both through the nets.
But McAdoo returned the favor to send Swoope to the line on a three-point play. Turnovers were doing the Tar Heels in towards the end of the game.
With 3:32 to play, timeout was called. Miami led UNC 52-45. The Tar Heels continued to battle on in the waning minutes, but it was a case of too little too late as Miami walked out of the Dean Dome with a victory for the second straight time.
You can view the final game box score here.